Apartment baiting with Facebook Ads

There are all sorts of clever things you can do with Facebook’s ad platform. One example I ran across recently is the ability to snipe a single person with hyper-personalized ads. Another example is apartment baiting.

A few months ago, my wife and I were on the market for a new appartment. The rental market where we live is notoriously bad —flats go from listed to rented in hours. I wanted to find a way to hack the system, and find apartments before they’re even listed. I needed a way to beat the crowd!

So I set up a Facebook ad, geo-targeting people living in our desired neighbourhood. The copy was simple:

Couple looking for 2-bedroom in neighbourhood. Budget: $1250. Requirements: ground floor, parking. Reward: $250. Click here to message us.

The reward is designed to incentivize tenants who are about to leave their apartment to reach out to their landlord and recommend us as possible replacements on the lease. The ad was a smash hit — I received 10s of messages, and we ended up finding a great place to live.

The entire thing ended up costing about $300 — $250 as a reward, and $50 in ad spend (I believe we reached roughly every Facebook using inhabitant of the targeted neighbourhood).

Looking back, there are some things that may make the process even more efficient. Instead of just geo-targeting, it’s also possible to roughly target people who will soon be leaving the city: for instance, people who are about to complete their final year at the local university. Another way would be to split the prize: $125 for the person who’s apartment we’ll be taking over, and $125 for whoever refers us to that person. That way, we can leverage network effects to find even more apartments before they’re listed. I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg!


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